Garmin Forerunner 310XT GPS Watch Review

garmin forerunner 310xt gps watch

Compare Prices

Over the past several years, Garmin has earned a reputation for itself as a manufacturer of top-notch sports training watches for athletes at all levels. The Olathe, Kansas-based company’s sleek Forerunner 310XT fitness watch shows precisely how it got that stellar reputation.

The GPS-enabled watch integrates many of the better functions from Garmin’s earlier Forerunner 205 and 305 models and has been positioned by the company as an upgrade to its existing GPS watch range, however with the range of functions on show it is a lot more than just this.

The Garmin Forerunner 310XT: A Forerunner on Steroids

Much of the Garmin Forerunner 310XT appeal comes from its all new waterproof body, its ability to synch-up with cycling power meters and the fact that it can run for up to 20 hours on battery power. That’s more than double the battery life on the Forerunner 405.   Garmin’s latest Forerunner model is also slimmer, lighter and far sleeker looking than its predecessors.  Garmin, have cleverly positioned the price of the 310XT, which compares favourably with other high-end multi-sport GPS watches such as the Polar RS800CX.

A must have GPS watch for a triathlete, ironmen and other multi sport users

Triathletes in particular, will find plenty to like about the 310XT because it allows them to gather and analyze detailed performance metrics relating to heart rate, speed, distance, calories and elevation across multiple sporting activities. For triathletes, the new Forerunner features an automatic multisport mode that lets users transition effortlessly from one sport to the next by simply tapping on the lap button. So tracking and monitoring performance whether swimming, biking or running is much easier compared to earlier Garmin models.

Cyclists will find the Forerunner 310XT’s ability to integrate with their ANT+ power meters to be an especially useful feature because it gives them a measure of the wattage they are outputting and the energy they are expending while cycling. The 310XT is compatible with a wide range of power devices including the Quarq Cinqo, SRM and Power Tap. The watch can be synced up with Garmin cadence sensors for tracking and measuring the RPMs generated by the bike’s crank. The watch can also be programmed to measure performance on up to three different kinds of bikes. This means athletes can get an accurate picture of their workouts regardless of whether they are riding a race triathlon bike, a training road bike or even a recreational mountain bike.

The Forerunner 310XT is the only fully waterproof GPS watch on the market today

The Forerunner 310XT’s new waterproof body is designed to withstand fairly prolonged immersion in water.waterproof garmin forerunner 310XT Garmin itself claims that the watch can withstand being dunked in up to 90 feet of water for hours without missing a beat. What that basically means is that swimmers can wear the watch while working out, without having to worry too much about trashing the device. In comparison, previous generation Forerunner’s such as the 305 had only rudimentary water proofing, and that too at depths of a mere 3 feet and for about 30 minutes at best. As attractive as the water proofing on the new Forerunner is, there still is one major caveat.  If the watch is worn on your wrist, it does not accurately measure distance or heart rate while swimming.

The reason for this is that the watch loses satellite signal when it is underwater, with the result that your distance maps can look distinctly patchy when you download them after a swim.  Likewise, the watch also loses the heart rate monitor signal when its more than about 8 inches away from the HRM belt underwater.  So not the perfect GPS watch for swimming but it is getting there and its major advantage is that it is the only fully waterproof GPS watch on the market, so multi sport users can wear it in the water without worrying about whether it will come out broken.

The technology behind the Forerunner 310XT

The 310XT introduces some pretty nifty new features for runners as well. As a sports training watch it provides, visual, audible and vibrating reminders when a runner falls off pace. The Forerunner can be configured to display a virtual person running at the actual pace that was set by the runner. It then shows how far ahead (or behind) of that virtual person the runner actually is both by time and distance, thereby allowing them to adjust their pace as needed.  The Virtual Training Partner can also be used in the bike mode, allowing you to concentrate on maintaining a consistent speed on your ride.

garmin connect

The new Garmin watch can also be programmed to generate audible and vibrating alerts when an athlete achieves a specific goal, such as completing a two-mile run, for instance. In addition, the watch can be synched up with footpads for measuring running cadence. Garmin has also shrunk the overall dimensions of its latest Forerunner to roughly the same size as that of a regular wrist watch making it a little easier to wear while running.

Initial setup of the Forerunner 310XT is a breeze. When users first fire up the watch, it gathers some basic data about the user via a series of questions. It then uses the input for customized performance tracking purposes. The watch features a fairly intuitive user interface that allows users to sync it up with heart rate monitors and cadence trackers relatively easily.

Unlike previous Forerunner watches, the 310XT automatically synchronizes with your computer using ANT+ software, so all you need to do is slot the USB dongle into your computer and whenever you are in range you can download your workout data.  Fitness freaks will also love the 310XT’s support for very detailed analysis of performance tracking data, which comes via the Garmin Connect website interface.  Garmin Connect is essentially a web-based application that allows you to view your workouts, share them with others, and store them for late retrieval.  Users can automatically send their data to Garmin Connect when they synchronise their watches with their computer and this is what we would recommend you do.

The Forerunner 310XT in summary

So who exactly is Garmin targeting the Forerunner 310XT at? Certainly the fact that the watch is robustly water proof suggests that the company likely had swimmers topmost in mind when developing the product. Up to now, swimmers who wanted to measure their performance in water really had little option but to insulate their Garmin’s in plastic bags before dunking them in water.

The product is also perfect for cyclists who use power meters. The 310XT is the only Garmin wrist-mount that supports ANT+ power devices.  This includes models such as the Power Tap, SRM and Quarq Cinqo.  While individuals participating in multi sport events, such as Triathlons, will also find plenty to like about the extended battery life on the Forerunner 310XT and the multi sport mode with its one touch change.

On the other hand, individuals who are just runners, particularly those who average less than 10 hours of running a week, are going to find the 310XT to be overkill and would be better looking at either a Forerunner 305 or a Forerunner 405 depending on their budget and how many functions they need their GPS watch to have.

The Pros

  • 20 hours+ battery life
  • superb GPS tracking abilities including quicker satellite acquisition
  • ability to sync with power meters
  • wireless transmission of data to computers
  • the only waterproof GPS watch on the market

The Cons

  • the loss of satellite tracking and heart rate recording when it is underwater
  • while the Forerunner 310XT is well worth the money for the serious multi sport athlete,  it is overpriced for casual runners who should look at a Forerunner 305 or even a Forerunner 205 if a heart rate monitor is not needed.

Compare Prices of Garmin Forerunner 310XT

Compare Prices

Do you own or have you used a Garmin Forerunner 310XT watch? If you do we would love to hear your views on the watch, just leave us a comment below.

share save 256 24

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

robert soutar

I own the 405 and recently purchased the 310, i initially bought the 405 because of the feeling that it looked like a watch but had the gps performance that you would expect from Garmin, the bezel was very easy to navigate although in wet weather had to be locked as it switched between other aps. When i entered into the world of ultra running i needed a watch that would give me more than 8hrs without going dead so i opted for the 310 which is a fantastic sports watch which i now wear more than my 405, the only down side for me is that when you switch between the screen to see the actual time it is tiny in the right had corner where as the 405 had big digits which made it easy to read.

Leave a Comment